EDITOR’S NOTE: RCMP originally said the Conklin Airport was shut down. However, on Wednesday officers clarified the incident happened at the Christina Lake Aerodrome, east of the Conklin Airport.
A northern Alberta airstrip was shut down on Tuesday after a plane crashed into a pair of deer while trying to land on the runway, according to the RCMP.
Police said the two deer jumped in front of the aircraft and hit the propeller. It happened at the MEG Energy Christina Lake Aerodrome, east of Conklin, Alta.
RCMP said the plane, a Dash 8, was owned by Sunwest Aviation and was flying workers to a site for oilsands producer MEG Energy.
According to the RCMP, the plane was carrying 43 passengers and a crew of four. Nobody was injured but both deer were killed and there was damage to the aircraft.
Sunwest Aviation’s Mike Gocal said the pilots “felt a bump after they encountered the deer.”
“They saw them at the very last moment, but it was too late to take any evasive manoeuvre,” he said. “We’re working with the airport authority up there to prevent a recurrence, by working with them on improving their wildlife mitigation prevention program.”
Larry Stock, airport manager at Springbank Airport just west of Calgary, said he’s spotted large animals near runways before.
“We’ve had bird strikes, quite a few gopher strikes,” he said. “We’ve actually had a coyote strike, as well.”
To try to prevent planes from hitting wildlife, Springbank Airport officials use a starter pistol to scare animals away.
“On the end, we put a pyrotechnic, which when launched produces a screaming sound that will startle wildlife and move them into an area that is away from aviation activity,” Stock said.
Sunwest, based out of Calgary, is assessing damage to the plane before it makes repairs or begins flying again.
The RCMP said the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has been contacted and the airport will be shut down for 24 hours.
Christina Lake, Alta. is located about 155 kilometres south of Fort McMurray and about 360 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
With files from Global’s Gil Tucker